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Warm exotic spices and hearty split peas makes for a comforting bowl of deeply flavoured stew. It lasts and gets better over a few days, so make enough to have leftovers, serving with traditional Ethiopian flatbreads, pitta bread, chapati or brown rice. You won't miss the meat.

Warm exotic spices and hearty split peas makes for a comforting bowl of deeply flavoured stew. It lasts and gets better over a few days, so make enough to have leftovers, serving with traditional Ethiopian flatbreads, pitta bread, chapati or brown rice. You won't miss the meat.What do you do when Spring goes back into hiding?

Do you flip on the heat? Invite your cat or dog onto your lap? Pull on your favourite sloppy (old and moth-eaten) wooly jumper whilst simultaneously switching on the kettle for a cup of tea? Dear reader, I have done all of the above. And, after making food for my classes  – spinach, broccoli, feta and wild rice pie; Brazilian sweet potato, peppers and bean salad; and rhubarb, anise and vanilla bundt cake, in case you are interested – I have also been making this uber-comforting, earthy stew. Just for us. As well as keeping the heat and cosy layers on, too. Remember, I’m a Floridian at heart. 🙂

Warm exotic spices and hearty split peas makes for a comforting bowl of deeply flavoured stew. It lasts and gets better over a few days, so make enough to have leftovers, serving with traditional Ethiopian flatbreads, pitta bread, chapati or brown rice. You won't miss the meat.  It is officially Spring in the UK of course, but the weather in my adopted home hasn’t got that memo. Or rather it has snatched it back and scrawled, “More rain, drizzle, mist and yuck for the forseeable. Soz.”

So, soup. Or stew. Yes, this is thick and hearty enough to call a stew. I’ve slightly Anglicised this traditional Ethiopian recipe by using British-grown dried split green peas that were given to me by Hodmedods. to play with, and couple of handfuls of fresh English watercress, gifted to me by Watercress.co.uk (LoveWatercress). Normally – and do this if you wish of course – one would use red lentils and perhaps spinach at a push. It is a stew that normally charms with its dazzling palette of spices rather than a “whos who” of vegetables. Of course, me being me, I had to add more vegetables.Berbere spices for Mesir Wat

I’ve also added more fibre and some beta-carotene goodness from a fat sweet potato to complement the spices. I think it works very well. Typically this dish is literally eaten with injera, a traditional flatbread made with fermented teff flour batter (I used some teff in my rhubarb cakes today), in that you ladle the stew onto the injera as well as use this pliable bread to scoop up pinches of stew (the wot of the title). I may yet make this bread but as I need to remember to ferment the batter for a few days it is more likely that, as will be the case tonight, brown basmati will have to do. But rice is not so good as a scoop, nor does it make a sensible, edible placemat. 🙂

Just to say also that if you like Indian food, you should like this. They are not the same of course, but both cuisines (and yes, I know Indian has many cuisines) use layered spices and slower cooking to create unique and nutritious curries and stews. Not everyone has tried Ethiopian food, so this is the best comparison I can make.Warm exotic spices and hearty split peas makes for a comforting bowl of deeply flavoured stew. It lasts and gets better over a few days, so make enough to have leftovers, serving with traditional Ethiopian flatbreads, pitta bread, chapati or brown rice. You won't miss the meat.

I have only tried Ethiopian food twice, both times in London. Once was sitting with my family on a street curb, scooping stew with injera from a paper plate and wishing we had more injera to use as napkins (I think as much went on my top as in my mouth). We had waited patiently in a long, sticky-hot queue in a street food market somewhere in east London, looking sidelong at a Japanese gyoza stall that seemed much more efficient. But once we got our heaving and very bendy plates of food from the smiley ladies who were patiently and proudly explaining to nearly every customer what they were actually ordering (that was what was taking so long – hospitality!) we forgot our hunger and hot wait. I can’t think of any other time I have ever eaten with my bottom sat on a street curb but it was funny, and messy and jolly. I do however recommend the table and chair option, which we will be enjoying tonight. Enjoy.

Has Spring sprung where you are, or has it been playing a cruel game of hide and seek? Or, you my be going into Autumn. Are you still needing soup to keep warm? (This soup is perfect for either!)

Warm exotic spices and hearty split peas makes for a comforting bowl of deeply flavoured stew. It lasts and gets better over a few days, so make enough to have leftovers, serving with traditional Ethiopian flatbreads, pitta bread, chapati or brown rice. You won't miss the meat.

Mesir Wot - Ethiopian Berbere Spice Lentil Stew

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

I’ve given a long list of spices to use but please, if you don’t have all of these, don’t go out especially to get them. Another site has recommended using garam masala and then adding paprika and chilli pepper. I would also say to add cinnamon and cardamom. It won’t taste the same of course, but it will still taste very good.

If you aren’t up for fermenting batter for injera (thinking three days ahead is not my thing), serve this with pitta bread, chapati, roti, brown rice or a pseudo-grain like quinoa, or indeed teff

Inspired by numerous recipes, including from the kitchn, wholefoods market, and a soulful appetite, the latter also giving background information about Ethiopian food and culinary customs. xx

375-400g (2 cups) dried green or yellow split peas OR red lentils (the latter will go very soft and “pureed”; no pre-soaking need), soaked overnight OR boiled for 10 minutes then rinsed.

2 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil

1 leek or red onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp each of ground cardamom, allspice, cloves, coriander, hot pepper (e.g cayenne), nutmeg, and turmeric

1/4 tsp fenugreek (optional), black pepper

1 sweet potato, diced

1.7 litres vegetable stock OR boiling water and 2 tsp salt

One bunch of watercress OR 150g (5.3 oz) baby spinach or kale, roughly chopped

Lemon wedges

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a large lidded pot, then add the leeks and garlic, cooking gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spices and cook for a further two minutes before adding the soaked/pre-cooked lentils, the chopped sweet potatoes and the stock or water.

2. Bring the stew to the boil and then lower to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and cook a further 20 minutes to allow the stew to thicken up. Stir in the chopped watercress or spinach just before serving with your chose of grain/bread and the lemon slices.

Disclaimer: I was given some products to try but I have not been paid for this recipe, nor required to use either in a recipe. I only ever feature products that I actually use and love. Always. 

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18 thoughts on “Berbere Spiced Ethiopian Lentil Stew Recipe (Mesir Wot)

  1. debspots says:

    I just finished eating something very similar!

    1. Ooh, what was it, Deb?

  2. That sounds so tasty and so warming, I love all of the spices…in fact, I’m eating lots of them in my porridge right now!!!
    Spring is definitely trying its hardest down here, it’s been beautiful, if still a little chilly 😀

    1. I’m not a huge porridge lover at this time of year (it really needs to be frosty or snowing) but I do like it jazzed up with turmeric or stuff like bee pollen and cacao. And fruit. Is yours savoury, Elaine? Do you every eat conjee?

      1. I eat porridge all year round, if I even consider having something different for breakfast, I immediately start to miss it!
        I have mine made with water, mashed banana and my chai-inspired spice mix of cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg/cloves/cardamom..it’s the closest thing to ‘sweet’ I eat!!!

      2. And no, I haven’t tried congee..

  3. Love Ethiopian food, love this stew and especially the spice mix. This will be a dinner this week, for sure!

    And yes, Spring had sprung here in the past week. But getting progressively colder and rainier throughout this week. :/ So now I need to get back to stews. Ha!

    1. Oh, I hope it is Katie. Let me know how you like it. My husband is absolutely in love with this warming stew. I thought it would be nice to pop some feta cheese on it one time, and that was very frowned upon. He said it needed nothing but itself. I married the right guy, huh?

      1. Good man. 😉 My husband gets extra points when he says this too. And yes, this did become a dinner this past week! And it was a lovely one at that. So easy but the spice mix really made it. I added celeriac with the sweet potato. We didn’t add feta but lentils and feta are always a good combo, though I agree that it’s not necessary here. Thanks Kellie!

  4. This is exactly my favourite type of food…in fact, Im about to srat tonights meal, it might just be this! Thank you!

    1. Let me know how you like it. We are going to be eating some very different food than this, very soon. Can’t wait!! 🙂 Copenhagen and credit card melting – here we come!

  5. Spring has gone into hiding in my neck of the woods too! And this stew looks like the perfect thing to warm us up! Love the spices in there!

    1. Thank you Naina. Today has been a weird melange of stunning sunshine and warmth and pouring rain and localised flooding. I have one secret portion of this stew squirreled away…. 😉

  6. noorieboorie says:

    This looks lovely!

  7. superfitbabe says:

    Guess what I woke up to today? RAIN. Well April showers bring May flowers, I guess? 😂 I’ve always wanted to try Ethiopian food actually! The cuisine looks so delicious and exotic!! This looks like such a great soup and would have been perfect for this rainy morning!

  8. Anjelica says:

    Thanks for sending this recipe. I really didn’t heard about this recipe. After seeing this post, I think, This recipe will be a spicy recipe. I want to eat this. I will eat this with French press coffee. It will be a nice combination. Keep posting. Thanks again.

  9. 100% bookmarked this to make soon! Looks yummy, thank you!

    1. Aw, that’s great to read Luci. I hope that you do!

If you have time, I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

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